Monday 28 September 2009

Mungkorn Fah (มังกรฟ้า / 天龙饭店)

Mungkorn Fah (English translation - Sky Dragon) is an unassuming Chinese Restaurant situated at the PTT Petrol Station opposite Chiang Mai's Immigration office & not far from the airport. The decor is quite dated and simple, but clean. There's nothing much to distract (other than perhaps a large TV showing Korean drama series) from the excellent food.

In fact, I'd say Mungkorn Fah is now one of our favourite Chinese Restaurants in Chiang Mai. We do very much prefer it to the very much more famous Jia Tong Heng - nice food but quite bland for our taste.

OK, back to Mungkorn Fah. Actually, the first thing of note was the rice! I know, we are in Thailand, and rice is served everywhere, and it's not usually something I comment on, but not all rice are created equal. Mungkorn Fah's rice was so lovely and fluffy, and was cooked to perfection, and went so well with all the sauces from the dishes we ordered...

Bitter Melon stir-fried with garlic. I know bitter melon isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I love bitter melon. : ) This dish is rather different, because most restaurants here have dishes like Bitter Melon stir-fried with eggs, but not the garlic. I've only had this in China. This dish was really nice, although the servings was perhaps a bit small. I think I enjoyed the sauce on rice most!

Now if we thought the bitter melon sauce was nice, it was nothing compared to the "Tao Hoo Song Kreung" - normally equates to fried Tofu stir-fried with "everything" eg. minced pork, garlic and various vegies. Mungkorn Fah's Tao Hoo Song Kreung came out piping hot, but to our initial disappointment, it looked rather plain. I couldn't see the usual vegies in sight. Just plain fried-tofu in a brown looking sauce that seemed to contain a bit of minced pork and tiny (and I mean tiny) pieces of mushrooms. We were a bit unsure about this whopping 200 baht for-just-tofu dish until we tasted it. The tofu was silky smooth, and the sauce was marvelous. I can't even begin to describe the flavour, but suspect it has something like Scallop sauce in it. When I asked the waitress, she doesn't seem to know either. Suffice to say, there was not one drop of the sauce left!

The third dish was Pla Chon (Serpent head fish) steamed with Dul See (fermented black beans). It was an unusual dish for me as I've never had steamed fish cooked this way before, and it was lovely. The salty flavour of the fermented black beans complemented well with the soft, fluffy textured Pla Chon. The great thing too, about this sauce is that it's not too salty. The flavour was just right, and yes, a fair bit of it went on our rice, but no, we didn't have that much of the sauce this time. We were getting full (and running out of rice!).

Total price (including Chinese Tea) - 570 baht for four.

Mungkorn Fah Chinese Restaurant
PTT Service (Petrol) Station
Opposite Chiang Mai Immigration Office
Airport Road, Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 201614, 086 1174473
Opens everyday: 5pm-10pm

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Friday 18 September 2009

Nasi Jumpru

It's in a stylish looking modern Thai wooden teak house, the decor is reminiscent of an English country garden, the name is of Indonesian origin. Sounds a bit like a big confusion, yet somehow it works.

There is of course, nothing confusing about Nasi Jumpru's Thai-fusion food. Very creative mix of ingredients and styles, very beautifully presented, very delicious!

We ordered an Eggplant salad - sounds pretty simple, right? This is what came out of the kitchen.

Amongst the Oohs and Ahs of fellow diners appreciating the "art work", there was another surprise in the dish. This eggplant had this lovely smoky flavour, served with shallots, boiled egg, carrot and chilli. I have have never tasted other eggplant dishes like it. Gorgeous!

The Duck with Tamarind Sauce was another interesting dish. Roast duck with just a slight layer of fat under skin went really well with the tangy tamarind sauce, topped with fried shallots, and intriguingly, mashed pumpkin. The mashed pumpkin tasted a bit like, I would say, warm Vanilla-Pumpkin Ice-cream (if one exists) - slightly sweet and creamy. I'm not sure if I would have liked the mashed pumpkin by itself, but it seemed to work in the dish, and I would say I really enjoyed this duck!

Here is another gorgeous dish - in looks and taste. It was one of the "Specials" for the day - the Snow Pea Shoot Salad, Tai Yai style. "Tai Yai" are an ethnic group from the Shan State (now a part of Burma). The snow pea shoots gave the salad an earthy, nutty taste. There was a hint of chilli, and there were also tomatoes, shallots, boiled eggs, Northern pickled pork and sesame seeds. Yum!

The other "special" was a type of curry called "Gaeng Kuo Hoi Khom" - it's like red curry with a kind of freshwater snail. I like to think of it as shell fish! We were expecting something extraordinary (having seen the other dishes), but it looked rather...normal. The probably doesn't sound too appetising, but the curry was quite good and the little snails were crunchy. ; )

We of course couldn't leave without trying the dessert. Nasi Jumpru offers some of the regular Thai desserts (nothing sounding very exciting), but we tried homemade Custard apple ice-cream and Sticky Rice Ice Cream. Compared to the presentation of the other dishes, the ice-cream came out rather plain - just a scoop of ice-cream in each bowl. However, both types were lovely.

The cost of dinner for 4 people was 685 baht.

Nasi Jumpru
Chiang Mai-Mae Jo Road
Take the second U turn on Mae Jo Rd from the Meechok Plaza (Rimping Supermarket) Intersection
Ph: 053 345 362

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Friday 11 September 2009

No Name Restaurant, Chiang Rai

Well, it's actually not called "No Name", but they don't actually have a name. It's just called "Food and Coffee House", or something to that effect. It's a quaint little restaurant amongst rice fields, not too far from the beautiful Wat Rong Khun (also known as the "White Temple"). The only sign we saw was that of "Doi Chang Coffee".

What's so great about this place? First of all, the restaurant is very clean, and comfortable. The owners are very welcoming (and speak great English!). The meals are simple and healthy, but also taste great. Don't expect the food to arrive quickly though, because the vegies are freshly picked straight from the restaurant's organic garden before cooking.

While we were waiting, we were served an amazing looking refreshing blue coloured drink. No, it was non-alcoholic! It was actually "Anchan flower drink" - a drink made from anchan (blue pea flowers). Anchan is also the source of natural colouring for blue coloured rice that you may see here in Thailand. The other great thing about this drink is that the restaurant didn't add sugar to it (like most restaurants would).

We ordered a couple of plates of vegetables and steamed fish (which was screaming out to us, "Eat me!"). These were served with a delicious freshly made homemade chilli dip. We also had "Lemon Pork". The pork was cooked in a tangy lime dressing, which was so nice we couldn't help pouring the dressing all over our rice.

Overall, it was a lovely and light meal. The bill for the four of us came to 290 baht- fantastic value!

"Food and Coffee House"
Hwy 1122
From Wat Rong Khun, drive down until you reach Hwy 1122 and turn left.
The restaurant will be about 50-100 m on your right.
Ph:089 9517964

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